Back when I first talked about Pinterest, it was seen more as a content curation source – but we were one of the first to spot the viral nature of its image marketing. Fast forward a mere two months and Pinterest has boomed into one of the biggest social media platforms – a must have just as essential as Twitter and Facebook.

What started out as a mostly female demographic in 2009 has exploded into a diverse user group that includes all ages, genders and interests. According to December 2011 reports, Pinterest now boasts over 3.3 million users and 7.21 unique visitors…a figure that’s jumped by 329% since just last September. At this rate, it’s clear the social platform is mimicking Facebook circa 2006 in terms of growth. It’s also already surpassed Google+ by becoming one of the most popular social media portals, especially when it comes to retail consumption.

So how can a small business owner leverage Pinterest for their company’s success? Try some of the ideas below:

  1. Focusing on Lifestyles – Pinterest attracts consumers to specific retailer sites. This can be accomplished once you understand that users flock to lifestyles. All industries, especially retailers, break down into sub industries. If you’re a retail giant or a corner shop, understand your target group and create a visual board that centers on their interests, tastes and lifestyle preferences.
  2. Move Beyond Your Product – Do you share images of just your brand or product…or do you share what inspires you? This has been a core dilemma for many businesses, including fashion giant Kate Spade. The answer relies on the principle of social media marketing, and that means not being self-centered. If you’re on Pinterest, share what moves you, what inspires you and what falls under your “lifestyle.” The move beyond self-serving marketing will draw in a wider audience that appreciates the same aesthetics.
  3. Diversify Your Pinboards – While you shouldn’t say “here is what I’m selling” by plugging product-only images, you can share pins that touch on what you offer. If it’s clothing, you can share a style board that encompasses select pieces. If you’re marketing, you can share clever marketing ideas that touch on services you offer.
  4. Hold Contests – Contests are getting very popular on Pinterest. To hold a contest, ask that entries include a specific theme. Perhaps they’ll be wearing your product, implementing a service or capturing a creative shot of something thematic relating to your industry or brand.
  5. Know Your Audience – Confused about your target audience? Running out of marketing ideas? Need to find new ways to target your core market? Go to Pinterest under relevant lifestyle pinboards for fresh and inspirational ideas. You may also get a marketing idea based on another successful campaign.
  6. Create Smart Partnerships – Pinterest is a relatively new market, so it’s also relatively untapped for partnerships. If you execute tip number five, you’ll likely come across boards that have a great following or clever perspective. Reach out to develop new contacts and emerge with creative partnership ideas that benefit both parties.
  7. Recognize Your Audience – Try having a board reserved for just great content or images shared by your audience and tag them where appropriate. Recognizing others will always work in your best interest. Currently Michael’s arts and crafts stores and Better Homes and Gardens utilize this tip with a lot of success.
  8. Get Original – Come up with creative board names. It’ll get you noticed and it ensures you’re a creative thinker. Make sure board names still have some keyword relevancy.
  9. Engage Others – Just like commenting, engaging others on Pinterest is just as important. Do this by commenting on relevant boards.
  10. Don’t Forget the Basics – Don’t forget to link a Pinterest button back on your website to help divert traffic both ways. Also make sure your user name incorporates your company name.

作者 Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Benchmark Email's Online Marketing Specialist and Small Business Advocate. An Orange County based writer, Shireen specializes in online marketing and public relations. She has written for over 75 publications and has launched nine successful new media campaigns to date. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Denver Post, the Oklahoman and Green Air Radio, among others.